Serge Lutens Laine de Verre : Perfume Review

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Laine de Verre continues Serge Lutens’s quest of toying with the artificial and unexpected. The name in French means glass wool, which is a type of fiberglass used for insulation. It’s certainly not something one would anticipate inspiring a perfume, but it’s all the more reason for Serge Lutens to try. The fragrance, built around shimmering, cool notes, promised to be a shocking and unusual item.

laine de verre

“A domestic quarrel between my feminine and my masculine,” mentioned Lutens’s press release, once again living up to its reputation for an enigmatic turn of phrase. I usually aim for balance and harmony myself, but I was still game to experience any upheaval in a perfume bottle. There was none, but the opening of Laine de Verre was unexpectedly classical and clean.

The perfume is heavy on aldehydes, materials that have a distinctive smell of wax and brushed metal. They’re present in many citrus fruit, flowers and herbs, and while there are numerous aldehydes, each with its own distinctive smell, they give a characteristic fizzy, metallic sensation. Laine de Verre ratchets up the aldehydes and adds tart citrus for a jarring but refreshing effect.

While at first Laine de Verre smells straight out of the shower clean, you quickly notice that it is not quite so simple. It’s not another cool floral like Chanel No 22 or Estée Lauder White Linen, mostly because flowers here are in short supply. It smells like cilantro leaves and soap bubbles, and despite what you might expect, this part is terrific.

What I dislike–and the reason for my 2 star ranking–is the bland drydown that takes Laine de Verre into the dime a dozen cologne category. Once the fizz wears off, you’re left with white musks, raspy woods and an unusually tenacious citrus. Even if you happen to like it, I recommend taking a walk to the masculine perfume counter; chances are you’ll find something similar and less expensive. Good luck if you’re trying to wash off Laine de Verre. It may be inspired by glass wool, but it wears like iron armor.

On other other hand, if you don’t care for the dark and dramatic and still want something of Serge Lutens’s style, Fleurs de Citronnier, L’Eau Froide, and Gris Clair are worth considering.

Serge Lutens Laine de Verre includes notes of aldehydes, citrus, musk, and cashmeran. Available at Barneys, Luckyscent, Aedes, Serge Lutens counters and other retailers. $110/50ml, $160/100ml

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69 Comments

  • Cornelia Blimber: Opening terrific, drydown disappointing…that’s my problem with Tubéreuse Criminelle (in Rotterdam pronounced as Tubereus Krimineel). The opening is so exciting, a real favourite, but the drydown (coming soon on my skin) is like sweet bubblegum. March 19, 2014 at 8:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Tubereuse Criminelle behaves better on me, but maybe, it’s just that I don’t care for the top notes and love the drydown. Yet, I know what you mean about ending up with something unpleasant after the initial great start. It’s the ultimate disappointment. March 19, 2014 at 8:43am Reply

    • Sarah: I also get Juicy Fruit bubblegum from Tubereuse Criminelle. March 19, 2014 at 9:12am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Since I came to enjoy the aldehydic fizz, I’m curious to test it even if it’s just for the beginning you described. But “white musks, raspy woods and an unusually tenacious citrus” sounds like a nightmare so I definitely won’t be testing it on myself. Thank you for the warning! 😉 March 19, 2014 at 8:14am Reply

    • Victoria: If you like aldehydes, you can do so much better, without having to go to the troubles of seeking out this perfume. For instance, White Linen or Pure White Linen by Estee Lauder are very good aldehydes. The former is classical, the latter is modern and sheer, more palatable perhaps. Chanel NO 22, Dolce & Gabbana Sicily, YSL Rive Gauche also have beautiful aldehydic tops. March 19, 2014 at 8:46am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Thank you for the great suggestions. I tried White Linen and No 22 but not the other ones you mentioned. I still don’t love aldehydes but now that I’ve warmed up to it, I’d like to explore more and see how they are used in different compositions. Before, I couldn’t stand them at all!

        I wasn’t planning on actively seeking out Laine de Verre. I just thought about giving it a try next time I pass by the SL counter in the local department store (it was actually featured in their magazine). March 19, 2014 at 9:46am Reply

        • Victoria: I like them in small doses, but there are days when their chill is so perfect. In something like White Linen, they feel very clean and refreshing. In No 22, they’re sweeter and champagne-like.

          Please give Laine de Verre a try and let me know what you think! March 19, 2014 at 11:18am Reply

          • Anne of Green Gables: I passed by the SL counter and tested it and my reaction was !!!??? You described the aldehyde blast as “jarring but refreshing effect” but I only found it to be jarring and it smelled like the chemical they use for hair perm. It was utterly disagreeable and disappointing. Texture-wise, it did feel like the glass wool that I used in some lab experiments so maybe the scent matches the name after all. April 2, 2014 at 7:54am Reply

            • Victoria: 🙂 Perhaps, the intent was there after all. April 2, 2014 at 8:04am Reply

      • Alessandra: Agreed. I love both of Lauder’s linens, very different but both genius…. and no. 22, of course. Nothing to do with this lutens number. March 19, 2014 at 11:08am Reply

        • Victoria: I think that most of White Linen flankers were very good, although some were less aldehydic than others. March 19, 2014 at 3:16pm Reply

    • Elisa: I didn’t like aldehydes much at first either, still don’t like them in very sweet applications (the aldehydic Chanels are quite sweet). Another good dry aldehydic floral is VC&A First. March 19, 2014 at 2:02pm Reply

      • Victoria: That’s a good aldehydic floral, and I think that it’s easier to wear than Chanel’s No 5 and No 22 (esp if one doesn’t appreciate strong aldehydes that much.) March 19, 2014 at 3:29pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Elisa, yes, First is really beautiful! I’ve come a long way even to wear No 5 EDT time to time but before I thought it smelled like insecticide. 🙂 I think wearing it during the cold winter made me rediscover it. Somehow, the aldehydes seem to shimmer better in the cold. I recently tried Eau Premiere and loved the softened aldehyde and citrus in the top; it really was sparkling like champagne. March 19, 2014 at 4:21pm Reply

  • Sarah: I didn’t like the sound of it when I first heard about Laine de Verre your review confirms my suspicions. March 19, 2014 at 9:11am Reply

    • Victoria: If you don’t like sharp and aldehydic perfumes, this one probably isn’t for you. March 19, 2014 at 11:15am Reply

  • Ann: I hated L’Eau and this sounds the same. 🙁 March 19, 2014 at 9:45am Reply

    • Victoria: I was testing them side by side and I can’t makeup my mind which perfume I dislike more. L’Eau was really bland and left me smelling like I rubbed myself with fabric softener, but Laine de Verre was fascinating in the first 30 minutes-1 hour and then it took a sharp turn. March 19, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

  • George: “A domestic quarrel between my feminine and my masculine” I’m refraining from writing a 5000 word essay on this, psychoanalysing the Lutensian output. Instead I’ll just say that a high dose of aldehydes gives me a migraine (like a bright white flash that goes off in my head and makes me want to be sick; I ‘m not sure that they are there so much for the smell as to give the smeller some sort of electro-convulsive brainwipe that then makes everything that comes in to feature so much more prominent) so maybe the quarrel metaphor might be apt in this case. Also, cilantro/coriander- when listed as a prominent note- I generally find in perfumes that disagree with me. Therefore- perversely- i am very much looking forward to smelling this! Love the name though. March 19, 2014 at 9:53am Reply

    • Victoria: George, please don’t refrain from a 5000 word essay on that topic! 🙂 March 19, 2014 at 11:19am Reply

  • Aisha: “It may be inspired by glass wool, but it wears like iron armor.”

    LOL!

    I’ve been (very slowly) making my way through the Surge Lutens wax samples you sent me as part of your giveaway. So far, Un Lys, Santal Blanc and Iris Silver Mist are my favorites. There are many, many others to try. I’m in heaven. 🙂 March 19, 2014 at 10:06am Reply

    • Michaela: I loughed a lot about the iron armour! Such unexpected, suggestive and funny metaphors you can find in a genious book… March 19, 2014 at 10:17am Reply

      • Victoria: Glad that you liked it, Michaela and Aisha. 🙂 March 19, 2014 at 3:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m delighted to hear that you’re enjoying those wax samples so much. Santal Blanc wax sample makes me wish SL had a rich body butter perfumed with that sandalwood scent. March 19, 2014 at 3:12pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Gosh, that would be divine! March 19, 2014 at 4:30pm Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Aisha, I’ve also been testing the wax samples since several months and I’m still not through. It’s like eating truffles and pralines out of an assorted chocolate box and I’ve been deliberately saving some. March 19, 2014 at 4:39pm Reply

      • Ashley Anstaett: Anne, I recently got a set of seven samples from Aedes and I realize I have been them exactly the same as you have with your SL samples! It is like eating assorted chocolates, always planning which one to use and on which day and when! March 19, 2014 at 5:50pm Reply

  • Zazie: The fizzy opening sounds lovely, especially in this very (too?) hot spring days… however on my skin – and on that of the reluctant husband – laine de verre goes “industrial cloud of chemical exhaust”! We tried to scrub the artificial smelling offender without much luck…
    SL’s eaux are very intriguing (at least, the concept), but none worked for me, not even remotely… In general, I have much more luck with his florals 😉 March 19, 2014 at 10:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Chemical is how my husband described it. He smelled it on me when it has dried down enough, but unlike me, he didn’t care for the first part either. And yes, it’s impossible to scrub off! March 19, 2014 at 3:13pm Reply

  • Alessandra: I couldn’t agree more with this review. I sprayed this on a few weeks ago in Paris and well…. what a mega disappointment. It is nice after a few seconds, although not on my skin, rather on my clothes – my skin seems to hate this perfume and only delivers a weird take on abrasive pseudo-clean – but you’re right, Victoria, the mega disappointment is in the drydown. Bloody hell. Whatever it was on my skin, it was gone pretty quickly, and before vanishing, it’s boring. 🙁 March 19, 2014 at 11:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Abrasive pseudo-clean is a good one phrase description of my Laine de Verre experience. The sparkling start didn’t lead me to believe that it would be end up this way. March 19, 2014 at 3:15pm Reply

      • Alessandra: Indeed! Well… this gives me more time to catch up on all the other wonderful Lutens, hahaah 😉 March 19, 2014 at 4:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s how I’m going to treat it too. 🙂 March 20, 2014 at 6:58am Reply

  • Ari: I found this one unpleasant, and that Vierges lily pretty boring. I still have some good will left over from my beloved Santal Majascule, though. Do you know who the Serge Lutens perfumer is these days, Victoria? It can’t be Christopher Sheldrake, right? March 19, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s still Sheldrake, as far as I know. I just think that they’re exploring some new phase together. Well, can’t have one masterpiece after another, I suppose. March 19, 2014 at 3:17pm Reply

  • Ashley Anstaett: Oh, that is too bad, because I love the idea of “Glass Wool.” The description made me think it would be like L’Eau Froide, which is just lovely, and seems to be pretty sparkling, perfect for a hot summer day. I have a little sample that I have tried only once, with the intention of saving it for the hotter days of summer. Sounds like I will not be going out of my way to smell Laine de Verre. Any other recommendations for a perfume that would be really great for summer, that have that same sparkliness to them? March 19, 2014 at 11:17am Reply

    • Victoria: I keep envisioning delicate threads of glass in pale blue tones as I think of the name, although the perfume itself doesn’t take me there.

      My choices for sparkling and bright perfumes would be Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, pretty much anything from Marc Jacobs splashes, Chanel Cristalle, Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds, and Annick Goutal Vetiver colognes. Guerlain Herba Fresca is another choice, especially if you don’t mind minty and green. Have you tried any of these? March 19, 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

      • Alessandra: I am wearing Cristalle today 🙂

        I also love Marc Jacobs splashes…. did they cease to exist completely? I still cherish my cotton splash and never managed to buy the wonderful cucumber 🙁 March 19, 2014 at 4:51pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m not really sure, because they released so many and then discontinued a bunch. I don’t know if it applies to the whole collection or just to certain perfumes. March 20, 2014 at 6:59am Reply

          • Alessandra: I can still find the kumquat and hibiscus series in shops, and one specific niche perfumery in Florence (where I live) has been having the same ivy and violet numbers for ages, without stocking up 🙁 yeah, it’s all confusing, even more so because the marc jacobs website doesn’t list them at all, at present. I wish they could bring some of those fragrances back. While they’re at it, if they could bring Blush back, they would make me immensely happy. I adore that perfume, still have the bottle I bought in London while I was studying there. It reminds me of so many things and is, in my opinion, a great perfume in itself! 🙂 March 20, 2014 at 7:13am Reply

            • Victoria: I adored Blush, and I still think that it’s one of the nicest airy jasmine and honeysuckle perfumes. I haven’t found anything that smells closer to honeysuckle than this fragrance. March 20, 2014 at 7:53am Reply

              • Alessandra: Same here! March 20, 2014 at 8:42am Reply

      • Ashley Anstaett: That’s what I had in my head too! Names can be so misleading, because the image that conjures is just lovely.

        I tried Cristalle ages ago, and remember really liking it, but I don’t remember much about it. I haven’t tried any of the other ones though! I also don’t mind minty and green at all; it sounds delightfully refreshing. The cilantro note you mentioned in Laine Verre sounded very appealing, if not a bit odd.

        I have compiled a HUMONGOUS list of things to smell. I’m headed home to St. Louis for the weekend, so I’m going to try and smell as many of these as I possibly can. March 19, 2014 at 5:53pm Reply

        • Victoria: I like cilantro or green mandarin notes, since they can be so unexpected, but I know that some people really dislike them. Maybe, it overlaps with whether you like cilantro in food or not? If you’re curious about another interesting appearance of that note, try Cacharel Noa. It’s soft and powdery, but there is a crisp touch of cilantro right on top. March 20, 2014 at 7:02am Reply

  • Amer: I have a sample of this and only tested it once! From that I deduced that Serge Lutens’ masculine must be an overweight soda-pop drinking couch potato and his feminine a laundry obsessed housewife. No offence to real people but this translated in fragrance make for one of the most unattractive pairings ever! Wearing this was like living in a house surrounded by way too many chemicals. Last phase that seemed blunt to you for me was the most bearable -being the least invasive…(actually least hysterical is a more accurate description).

    I am trying to convince myself that it can’t be that bad but I can’t find the nerve to repeat the test. I need to get me a subject… a victim that I will spray this on so I can smell it from a safe distance and then part ways with them if the unpleasant sensation persists.

    I don’t think I’ll ever find a SL eau that will grow on me. March 19, 2014 at 11:21am Reply

    • Victoria: Gosh, it sounds like you disliked it more than I did. I do agree that it’s incredibly strong, which I didn’t realize at first. I usually test every perfume 3-4 times on average before I write up the review, and I did persevere with Laine de Verre too. March 19, 2014 at 3:22pm Reply

  • Nikki: Hmm, another weird name…I have to agree that I am quite disappointed as well. I also don’t feel excited about SL anymore. While his bio is interesting and living in Marrakesh must be great for him, his perfumes are just not that special to my nose, and naming one of the previous perfumes vierge de fer is tasteless if not worse…..

    His boutique in Paris is wonderful and I also use his lipsticks which are overpriced, even though the amount of pigments is amazing.

    So, no, no more SL for me. Give me Ellena anytime….or Kurkdijan! March 19, 2014 at 11:35am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: I agree wholeheartedly with your comment on the name ”Vierge de Fer”. March 19, 2014 at 12:55pm Reply

      • Nikki: Must be because we are aware of medieval history….! March 19, 2014 at 1:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: I liked some of Lutens’s recent perfumes like La Fille de Berlin, but overall, I think that the pace of launches is too quick. The collection is very large right now, which by itself is not a bad thing, since it’s split into sub-collections. But overall, I wish that they slowed down a bit. This goes for many other perfume houses. March 19, 2014 at 3:24pm Reply

  • maja: Glass wool has such an unpleasant texture if I remember well. So the name is already saying something. 🙂 But I am curious about it, I’ll give it a try. March 19, 2014 at 11:36am Reply

    • Victoria: My husband brought a piece of it home from work so that I could take a look at it. No, the texture was not pleasant at all, more like rough and scratchy. So, maybe Laine de Verre hits its aim after all. 🙂 March 19, 2014 at 3:25pm Reply

      • Ashley Anstaett: Oh wow, I didn’t realize glass wool was a real thing! It sounded so lovely, and then, after reading your comments, I realized it’s fiberglass. Blech, not nice at all. I am such a ding dong sometimes. :-p March 19, 2014 at 5:57pm Reply

        • Victoria: So maybe, if we knew what it was from the very beginning we wouldn’t like the name as much. I speak French, but I rarely discuss the construction materials, so laine de verre conjured something very interesting to me. 🙂 March 20, 2014 at 7:00am Reply

          • Amer: I am still not 100% convinced that SL had the insulating material in mind when coming up with his third eau concept. An abstract interpretation seems more in accordance with the masculine-feminine talk in the press release. Still don’t get where the metallic nuances come from but one doesn’t have to be psychoanalytical about everything. March 23, 2014 at 3:55am Reply

            • Victoria: Very true! Psychoanalyzing SL’s press releases is enough to make one’s head spin. 🙂 March 23, 2014 at 6:14am Reply

  • Sandra: I think I will give this a try!
    The name “glass wool” is not very flattering though.
    On a side note: I watched my 3rd Bollywood film devdas. It was ok, one song with the two girls I downloaded off iTunes.
    My fav is Joddha then M. Et Azim March 19, 2014 at 1:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: You may find yourself loving it, since perfume perceptions are so subjective. There must be people who enjoy it and on whom Laine de Verre genuinely smells wonderful.

      Devdas is a fun film, but it doesn’t hold a candle next to the other two. If you have a chance to see the older version of Devdas, it’s much better. It’s black and white and less glitzy, but the story and acting are more nuanced. March 19, 2014 at 3:28pm Reply

  • Gentiana: Wonderful and creative review!
    Well, I am a kind of disappointed by this release – as I read the review – and have no more wish to try it, being on the clean and chemical side, overwhelmed by sharp aldehides (that give me headache).
    I understand it has similarities to L’eau that is one of the very few perfumes in my life that I scrubbed off – I disliked it that bad, that I had no patience to wait for it to develop.
    I have no guts to try this one, if it is such an “iron armor” 🙂
    Nevertheless, the “Arabic” crowd of lutensian perfumes is very close to my heart and, as Anne and Ashley said… I cherish the samples and the bottles and count the days to use them the same as with chocolate assortments (brilliant comparison).
    How can I get samples from the Palais Royal line? As I once told you, I wrote more times to Lutens E-boutique asking for samples – and I had no success. Give me an idea, please.
    Wonderful and creative review! March 20, 2014 at 8:02am Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Gentiana, it’s strange that it didn’t work for you because I received my wax samples by sending them an e-mail. March 20, 2014 at 8:17am Reply

      • Gentiana: Well, by some reason it didn’t work, I will try again.
        Maybe it is because of the country I live in? Some companies have mailing policies and restraints to certain countries.
        But I received from their e-boutique the Ambre Sultan.
        Maybe they don’t trust usual post in Romania? (honestly said… they have to)…
        They won’t send free samples by UPS because it is such an expensive post…
        I wrote them three times that I don’t mind to pay for the samples… and I got no answer…
        That made me sad.
        Even in the parcel with Vaporisateur Tout Noir (+ two minis as special offer) was not a single sample. Just a card with a lot of bla bla about Laine de verre.
        That made me sad again, and kind of frustrated.
        Well… I still love more of their perfumes… March 21, 2014 at 2:38pm Reply

        • Michaela Kristal: Gentiana,
          it is surely because of the country. It happened the same to us, with Serge Lutens, when we contacted them searching for samples to cover their perfumes in Parfum Parfait. They don’t ship here because they have a local perfumery distributor. Unfortunately, the Lutens distribution in Romania does not cover the extensive range and novelties reach us late. I cannot understand why on earth lutens wouldn’t sell samples and bottles if they have local distribution, since the local distribution doesn’t usually does its job in promoting the perfume lines properly and are interested only in providing their stores with what it sells better… It sucks and it’s not professional. The same with keiko mecheri line: you cannot test everything they have in Romania but a small safe range. If you mail them, they’ll tell you they have local distribution and you should go there. My solution was to order from ausliebezumduft.com, because I need material for Parfum Parfait. It is expensive but at least we can try them… April 4, 2014 at 3:47am Reply

          • Gentiana: Thank you for explaining me the situation… Well, it is not that simple: I bought Ambre Sultan from the E-boutique (and the transportation is about 25 Euro… hold on!)
            I still am puzzled, I don’t understand this marketing concept:
            1) Having a widely distributed perfume range – and, of course, local distributors. Samples of this line exist (most of them) at local distributors. Sniff-decide-buy. OK
            2) An exclusive range, not accessible through local distributors – but Palais Royal
            3) An e-boutique that SELLS THE EXCLUSIVE LINE.
            4) NO samples available for it in e-boutique. Nor at local distributors.
            5) I have the following alternatives if I want from the exclusive line: go to Paris or buy blind….

            I don’t understand what is the purpose of e-boutique, if I have anyway local distributor for the widespread range and I can not sniff the perfumes from the exclusive line.
            Am I illogical ? April 8, 2014 at 3:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you like the Middle East inspired creations the most, then this Lutens would definitely not satisfy you. I think that it aims at a totally different audience, which is perfectly fine. SL can’t do one dark perfume after another, although in this case, I’m not convinced by the sharp and synthetic character of Laine de Verre. If I want something clean, then Fleurs de Citronnier works much better for me.

      I’m not sure how you request samples, as I haven’t done it myself, but some commenters here had good luck just writing to the company and obtaining a book of wax samples. Hope that you get a chance to try them! March 20, 2014 at 9:03am Reply

      • Gentiana: Thank you…
        Yes, the Middle East creations work fine for me and some of the florals (like Vitriol d’Oeillet)
        It is the right of the house to do perfumes in a different style, to a get a wider audience but, somehow, in my sight, these creations don’t represent Lutens… March 21, 2014 at 2:42pm Reply

  • Annikky: This doesn’t sound like my thing at all, but I enjoyed your review very much. I’ll give it a try, as I’m still interested in every Lutens. But I agree, there are too many launches lately and somehow the scents don’t live up to the concepts. In my head, La Vierge de Fer was a cold, intimidating lily to end all other lilies… March 20, 2014 at 10:26am Reply

    • Victoria: In my head, that was Vierge de Fer as well, so while I liked it, it didn’t quite live up to my imagination. But on my mom it smells gorgeous, and I plan to make a decant out of her bottle for my own enjoyment. March 21, 2014 at 1:57pm Reply

  • Emma: I’m surprised you didn’t like this one. I’ve been wearing it lately after dismissing it initially, it’s growing on me now to the point I just got a full bottle. It’s more interesting and conceptual than I originally thought, by that I feel it’s a scent with no past, no history, makes me think of very modern design urban places and super high buildings in the Middle East and Asia that seem to have suddenly come from nowhere, it’s also more feminine and lighter than L’Eau Froide, and a lot better than the original L’Eau.
    Maybe you should revisit it… November 7, 2014 at 6:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you’re enjoying it! Yes, it is definitely more interesting than L’Eau. November 7, 2014 at 6:36pm Reply

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